The new lists of top 100 prospects in baseball will be released soon by several national outlets including Baseball America, MLBPipeline.com, ESPN and others. Last year, on the Baseball America list, the Orioles had three players ranked for just the second time since 2013. They had a list of three after the 2014 and 2018 seasons.
Here is a look back at the Orioles on the lists last winter.
Baseball America: Austin Hays (21), Chance Sisco (68) and Ryan Mountcastle (71)
MLBPipeline.com: Hays (23), Mountcastle (98)
ESPN: Sisco (53) Hays (79)
FanGraphs.com: Hays (90)
Baseball Prospectus: Mountcastle (65), Hays (72)
The most players the Orioles have ever had on the Baseball America top 100, which began in 1990, is five players, after the 2008 season. They were Matt Wieters (12), Chris Tillman (67), Radhames Liz (69), Troy Patton (78) and Nolan Reimold (91). The Orioles have had four players on the Baseball America list 10 times, the last was after 2010. Then it was Brian Matusz (5), Josh Bell (37), Zach Britton (63) and Jake Arrieta (99).
Díaz was acquired by the Orioles in July from the Dodgers in the Manny Machado trade. In 59 games for Double-A Tulsa before he was traded, Díaz hit .314/.428/.477 with a .905 OPS, along with six homers and 30 RBIs. Right before the Machado trade, Díaz hit two homers for the World Team in the All-Star Futures Game at Nationals Park. In 38 games with Double-A Bowie after the trade, he hit .239/.329/.403 with five homers and 15 RBIs. He could get bumped to Triple-A Norfolk this year or start back with Bowie.
His numbers fell off, and he may have been pressing to try to impress his new organization after the trade. But Bowie manager Gary Kendall saw a lot to like about Díaz.
“I like his athletic ability,” Kendall said in an October interview. “Here’s a guy that possesses five tools, and sometimes he’ll show you different tools each night. He can steal a base and runs the bases well. He is a little on the aggressive side on the bases. He’s got arm strength and throws accurately. We saw some power out of him, with more to come. He knows the strike zone and will take a walk. I see a lot of the ingredients of a good hitter. He showed us tools that can impact the game and help his team win.”
Mountcastle, who turns 22 next month, hit .297/.341/.464 for Bowie and produced an . 843 OPS versus right-handed pitching. Challenged to draw more walks, Mountcastle did make an improvement with a walk rate that was a very poor 1.9 in 2017 to a much more respectable 6.1 this past season. His OBP at Bowie improved from .239 in 2017 to .341. No, we don’t know his future position - it might not be third base - but he delivered a solid year with the bat, which looks like it will play one day at the major league level. Mountcastle has played 141 games at Double-A the last two seasons and probably should see his first Triple-A at-bats in 2019.
Hall had a strong first full season in pro ball in 2018. The No. 21 pick in round one in 2017, he went 2-7 with a 2.10 ERA in 22 games for Single-A Delmarva. The 20-year-old Hall walked 42, fanned 100 and held opponents to a .203 batting average over 94 1/3 innings. He allowed no more than one earned run in each of his last 13 starts after June 10, pitching to an 0.89 ERA.
Hall is ranked as the Orioles’ No. 2 prospect behind Díaz by Baseball America and No. 3 by MLBPipeline.com behind Díaz and Mountcastle. Baseball America rated Hall the No. 1 prospect in the South Atlantic League in 2018.
Hall was recently rated as the ninth-best lefty pitching prospect in the sport by MLBPipeline.com. Click here for more on that.
Last season, Hall showed a fastball that sat often between 92 and 94 mph, touching 95 and 96 mph. In a late-season interview, he told me he struggled with his curveball at times but made huge gains with his changeup during the season. Justin Lord was Hall’s pitching coach with Delmarva. Lord said that the southpaw on many nights had great stuff. But he added that the kid showed real progress by even pitching well on nights he was not lights-out.
“Something that has stood out that may go unnoticed is that he pitched well in games where he didn’t have his best stuff or his best command. He found ways to get hitters out. That is a huge asset for a young pitcher,” Lord said.
So Hall should enter the top 100 this winter, and with another solid season he may start working his way toward the top of that list. So do the Orioles get three on the top 100s when they come out soon? Or more or less?